“Between your eyes and the images I see (a sentimental choice)”
Nine drooping tulips, languidly rendered by Elené Shatberashvili in Flowers, 2021–22, announce the nine young artists gathered here. All oil painters and recent graduates of Paris’s Beaux-Arts, this circle of friends shares a concern for living bodies and the landscapes, mythologies, and late-night clubs they move through. Each artist is represented by a single work in addition to a small curiosity cabinet filled with sketchbooks and reference materials, providing a peek inside the emerging ateliers of Paris.
Madeleine Roger-Lacan’s teardrop-shaped canvas, Baûbo – mon sexe est mon coeur (Baûbo – my sex is my heart), 2022, has the titular straddling a black void, her face, planted on her torso, bearing an uncanny, blue-eyed resemblance to the artist. In Greek mythology, it is the sexually liberated Baûbo, like a playful best friend, who lifted Demeter from her sadness following the loss of her daughter to the realm of Hades. Meanwhile, Nathanaëlle Herbelin’s elegant portrait of a local barman, Augustan, 2022—his cool gaze ringed by a halo of red curls—finds its subject stretched on a couch, a moment of calm outside the spiraling frenzy of a predawn nightclub.
For the two male painters here, it is the masculine figure who dominates. And in both of their works—Simon Martin’s Christopher et Julien (nuit), 2022, and Jean Claracq’s Arcadia Club, 2018–21, the latter rendered in oil on wood with the precision of a Byzantine icon—subjects are captured turning their eyes toward glowing screens. Because what does it mean now to gather a group of friends? As the universe and the metaverse continue to collapse, and as artists continue to prioritize images over visions, it is an attachment to the body, the beauty of inevitable age and decay, as pungent perhaps as a wilting bouquet, that is all that keeps us from descending into the underworld.